Southern Christmas Trees


Additional Information on Murray Cypress

This article was published in the Georgia Department of Agriculture Farmers and Market Bulletin. Issue date was Mid to Late November, 2003. I do not have exact issue date. The article was prepared by David Ridgeway Jr. President of the Georgia Christmas Tree Association

Murray Cypress Tree of the Future
by David Ridgeway
A number of years ago, Georgia Christmas tree growers thought they had found the perfect Christmas tree with the Leyland cypress. It has qualities like no other tree; lush, green foliage, needles that remain on the tree, and longevity if properly watered (past Valentine's Day in one home).

Seen by thousands of customers of Georgia Christmas tree farms, the beauty of this tree has propelled it to number one in sales on Christmas tree farms and in the nursery industry. The Leyland cypress is now planted all over Georgia's landscape.

Available on many farms this year will be a new tree, which many growers think is a better tree than the original Leyland cypress. This tree is known as the Murray cypress.

This tree was discovered by Bill Murray, a retired forester, while taking cuttings for his nursery. Murray, who was instrumental in the formation of the Georgia Christmas Tree Association and the Christmas Tree industry in Georgia more than 50 years ago, noted that this tree has desirable qualities beyond the original Leyland cypress in that it is a darker green and has stronger limbs for holding ornaments.

For tree growers, it is almost unbelievable that the Murray cypress grows faster than the original Leyland cypress, which averages as much as four feet a year. It is more disease-resistant, will tolerate wetter soil and has a stronger root system.

This looks like it is going to be the Christmas tree of the future, as with all new trees, it has taken time to get the numbers of rooted cuttings to a level so the Murray cypress is widely available. As time goes on, this tree will be as readily available as the Leyland cypress is currently. Many Christmas tree farms throughout the state have already begun planting this new tree. Not only will it make a good Christmas tree, but it is also expected to be as popular in the landscape industry as the Leyland cypress.

Members of the GCTA continuously are looking for newer varieties of trees that will make better Christmas trees. As always, there will be many different varieties of trees available on Georgia tree farms, as well as the ones mentioned so far. Among those available will be Virginia pine, Red cedar, Carolina sapphire, Blue ice, and others. Also in extreme north Georgia, a few farms are able to grow Fraser fir.

Visit our website, to learn more about Georgia-grown Christmas trees or find a farm near you. You also can find a listing of Georgia Christmas tree farms in this issue of the Market Bulletin.

This photo shows a 2 year old plant that gives a better view of the limb structure than the pictures of larger trees. Note the more horizontal limb structure than is typical of the Leyland. This gives a stronger limb for decorating as a Christmas Tree. Yellow trees in background are Castowellan Gold strain of Leyland Cypress.